I CAN’T wait to drive the new Audi A8. But perhaps not quite for the reasons you might imagine.
I’m pretty sure the luxury driving experience will be exceptional – of that I have no doubt; but what I really want to experience in the new Audi A8 is the acoustics of the new sound stage.
Because the new Audi A8 features Bang & Olufsen 3D sound not only in the front seats, but in the rear seats, too.
The acoustic experience should be brilliant. It comes at a time when analysts reckon that branded audio system volumes in new vehicles are expected to grow from just under 11 million units globally in 2016 to 14 million units in 2023 (IHS Markit survey).
I’ve already had the chance to experience Audi’s 3D sound technology with the Bose system fitted to the Audi Q7 I’ve been driving (right). It’s like nothing else I’ve heard before – read Audi Q7 3.0 TDI long term review 2: take a seat at Ronnie Scott’s for my review of the system.
So the idea that you could have 3D sound front and back – well, I can’t imagine what the aural experience will be, but probably awesome would be a good description. Audi calls it ‘luxury that is audible’.
The new Audi A8, which will be launched at the forthcoming Frankfurt Show, features 23 speakers as part of the Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System that is fitted to the car.
Audi says that a good quality recording of a classical concert has the interior transformed into a broad concert platform where the music unfolds as if you were in the concert hall – without any artificial effects making the sound “authentic and emotional”.
So what’s behind this sound system?
Well, there’s the 23 loudspeakers I’ve already mentioned, but in addition there’s 1920-watt amplifier with a digital signal processor and individual amps drive each speaker.
Rear passengers can adjust volume levels and speaker levels themselves – for example sub-woofer response – while there is a special function for film sound tracks called Movie Set: just like being in front of the big screen, with characters’ voices coming from right or left as in the film.
There’s also your own piece of drama too: when the infotainment system is turned on, the two tweeters rise electrically out of their panel recess.
As you can imagine, work on the concept for the new Audi A8 sound systems started very early on in the development process.
“Integrating the loudspeakers at the right points in the car is the key to 80 percent of the audio quality,” says Wolfram Jähn, who is the sound and acoustics developer for the A8.
“They need to be mounted as rigidly as possible, so we fixed the subwoofer in the rear panel, which is made from carbon fibre-reinforced polymer. The aim is to isolate the loudspeaker from the body and prevent any vibrations from being transmitted.”
It all promises an amazing aural experience – if the sound system is better than the 3D sound system fitted to the Q7 I’ve been driving, then the new Audi A8 will be a terrific ride – accompanied by a great soundtrack.